The Institution’s Response to Coronavirus
The COVID-19 pandemic has proved to be an unprecedented global challenge, impacting profoundly on health and wellbeing, daily life and the economy around the world. In Malawi, the situation could not be any different; now that it has been registered in the country.
MIE’s Role in Response to Coronavirus
The Malawi Institution of Engineers has launched a dialogue platform with the Ministry of Health to specifically help in identifying potential solutions and facilitate implementable projects in respect of infrastructure and equipment. We are also setting up a web-based platform for useful contacts across the engineering fraternity that could help our government solve problems and assist the public health response.
Specific Areas of Need
Following our inaugural meeting with MoH, we established immediate need for:
- Critical Temporary Infrastructure – Space (building and mobile homes) with requisite utilities (power, potable water, and waste and wastewater management among others.
- Equipment (Manufacturing, Training and Maintenance): – Anticipating a scarcity of medical devices and a lack of treatment options for COVID-19, the MIE is developing concepts for locally manufactured ventilators, oxygen concentrators and respirators, facemasks, telemetry, automated sanitisers, service robotics, eye protection, hospital purposely-made beds and associated facilities including defining and specifying medical equipment and tools.
Level of Preparedness
Memorandum of Understanding
The Institution will enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the MoH. The memorandum will guide the terms of partnership with MoH. The memorandum is also aimed at summoning credibility in order to ease mobilisation as well as direct support in, for example, infrastructure and equipment from suppliers and contractors.
At this time, researchers at the University of Malawi (the Polytechnic Design Studio) are investigating innovative technology to manufacture masks, ventilators and other critical equipment. In collaboration with the University of Malawi (Chancellor College) through Physicist, Dr. Chomora Mikeka, who leads the Department of Physics as well as Engineer Mayamiko Nkoloma of the University of Malawi (the Polytechnic), the Polytechnic Design Studio has been working to create 3D printed alternatives to masks. Local manufacture of masks is important as imported ones could run out of supply. Next to follow is the local manufacture of ventilators and oxygen concentrators. Immediate research funding is required to achieve those milestones.
The Engineering, Construction and Suppliers Fraternity
Meanwhile, the MoH has identified 10 partially complete structures (formerly meant for EBOLA emergency management) to kick-start temporary holding space. The MIE has since deployed its members to different parts of the country to initiate scoping for converting such structures for the Covid-19 response. While, we may not be ready with the scope, we ask well-meaning constructors, suppliers and volunteer-engineers/scholars to enlist as below:
- If you are in a position to contribute, please get in touch via our online form;
- If you have an academic background (PhD candidate or higher), please sign up for rapid reviewer for Malawi Board of Engineers via our online form;
- If you have expertise relating to COVID-19 equipment as well as implements and would be prepared to provide expert insights to MIE, please sign-up here;
- To receive updates on the engineering response to COVID-19, please sign up via this online form. The MIE will collate requests and facilitate collaboration across national engineering fraternity and academics through email. We will also highlight ongoing work by engineers involved in the response.